Energy News For The Smart Homeowner

New PG&E Rate Hikes Coming In March 2017

 

2017 is seeing more rate increases, on top of the 5 rate changes in 2016. The rate changes in 2016 did two things: increased the electricity bill for average users, and made your bill go up faster if you used more electricity.

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PG&E rates are going up by 100%  on high usage, in all territories, for large households and people who expect to increase their electric usage with household amenities with electric vehicle charging. The new PG&E rate hikes are labeled as "surcharges." 

To leave definitions aside, and just talk basic realities, anyone with high electricity usage will be paying in excess of 80¢ per kilowatt-hour for any electricity they use above about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month.

If you have any of the following: a larger house, electric heating, a pool, a hot tub, an electric car, or two or three teenagers playing video games and taking showers, you are very likely to incur the new High Usage Surcharge, which is set at 40¢ per kilowatt-hour for starters. Final word from the PUC will come down in late February, to go into effect immediately.

This is PG&E's own description of the surcharge:

What is the High Usage Surcharge?

Beginning in March 2017, a new state-mandated High Usage Surcharge will be introduced. Its purpose is to encourage energy conservation among customers whose electricity use is far higher than typical households.

The High Usage Surcharge is an increased price per kilowatt hour (kWh) on any electricity usage that exceeds four times the customer's Tier 1 (Baseline) Allowance.

Based on recent analysis, less than 10% of residential customers will likely incur the High Usage Surcharge.

Understanding your energy statement and reducing your energy usage can help you avoid this surcharge.

Will you be impacted by the Surcharge?

The High Usage Surcharge applies only to customers on a Tiered Rate Plan (E1) who exceed four times their Tier 1 (Baseline) Allowance.

Each customer on a tiered rate plan has an allowance of electricity that is charged at the lowest possible price; this is called Tier 1 or your Baseline Allowance. The High Usage Surcharge is applied if a customer uses more than four times their Tier 1 (Baseline) Allowance in a monthly billing period.

What is the smart way to handle this? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Do a full energy audit of your house, and find any and all opportunities to save.

2. Install additional insulation, pool covers. modern pool pumps, and so on. Even consider windows and doors if they are leaky.

3. Consider energy-saving devices like attic fans and solar tubes.

3. If you are replacing any appliances in your house, consider appliances that run on gas.

4. If you are re-roofing, consider a energy-efficient roof, also known as a cool roof.

5. Consider solar for your house. Average energy cost for PG&E is 22¢, average cost for solar is 8¢: solar is almost 70% cheaper.

Remember, you do not have to pay upfront for many energy-saving improvements, including solar. You can explore PACE financing with Ygrene or Renew Financial. PACE financing stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It provides funds for a whole range of energy saving improvements to your home. You don't pay a penny upfront, and pay the improvement over time over your county or city property tax.

To sum up: buying PG&E is getting more expensive, and more limiting. Save energy and consider solar. It'll pay you back in spades.

If you would like to know more about how PG&E treats your solar energy system these days, you can read our latest information on PG&E and the solar owner here.

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